From the Ground Up: Grassroots Perspectives on Philanthropic Support for Health Reform

Research

From the Ground Up
Grassroots Perspectives on Philanthropic Support for Health Reform

Introduction
Calls are ringing out across the nation to fix our broken health care system. There is growing momentum to create a system that delivers better health care to more Americans at a reasonable cost. From state capitols to presidential campaigns, from corporate boardrooms to union offices, diverse voices are demanding reform. Proposals for system change are moving through state legislatures, and in some states, such as Massachusetts
and Maine, health reform is underway. Strong majorities of Americans fear rising health care costs and say they want guaranteed health care for all. And health reform is a priority for every presidential contender.
Foundations are crucial to system reform. Philanthropic organizations provide resources for advocacy, research, policy analysis, collaboration, communication, and many other strategies to advance the health care debate and support policy change. With the momentum for reform comes a more pressing need and opportunity for foundations to leverage their resources to foster change and support organizations working for it.
To help realize this opportunity, Consumers Union, with support from the Ford Foundation, surveyed nonprofit organizations that engage in health advocacy and policy work about their experiences with foundations. We conducted an online survey and heard from 117 health policy organizations in 37 states. We also interviewed more than a dozen advocates who had responded to the survey for more in-depth discussion. In reporting the
results, we offer a collective perspective from advocates on the ground in almost every state about their experiences seeking foundation funding for policy change in the health arena.
A number of organizations which focus on the activities of foundations, including Independent Sector, the Alliance for Justice, and the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy have addressed philanthropic efforts to fund social change — sometimes referred to as “social justice philanthropy”– in fields including health, the environment, civil rights, and education reform. This report complements their discussions and provides a particular perspective– that of the grantee working for policy change in the health arena.
For the complete report, click here (PDF format)